Comal ISD calls for $451 million bond package

District: Bond needed to meet projected growth of 11,000 students in next decade

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter,
Published On: Aug 27 2013 10:36:20 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 28 2013 11:10:10 AM CDT
Comal ISD calls for $451 million bond package

The Comal Independent School District will ask voters to pass a huge bond this November.

The district is calling for a $451 million bond to help meet the needs of a coming population explosion as more students move into the district.

"On average about 1,000 students per year is what we're seeing," School Board President David Drastata said. "We'll reach capacity in the next 3 to 4 years."

Drastata said the district wrapped up last school year with roughly 18,000 students.

When classes resumed for the new year on Tuesday, enrollment jumped to 19,000 students and projections show they'll top 30,000 in the next 10 years.

"With the increasing home construction in this area and those projections, that are very conservative by nature, we had to begin the planning process now," Drastata said.

That's why the district is asking voters to pass a $451 million bond package this fall.

It would be used to build 2 high schools, 2 middle schools and 2 elementary schools. The remainder of the money will be spent on district-wide improvements including safety, security and technology.

The new middle schools and high schools would likely be built near Gardenridge and Kinder Ranch where the bulk of new homes are going up.

"The core of the growth is primarily on the I-35 and the 281 corridors, and so clearly with that explosion of growth in those areas we've got to being taking action now to prepare for it," Drastata said.

Based on an average home price of about $165,000 Drastata said the added impact for taxpayers would be about $115 per year or about $10 per month, but he said taxpayers wouldn't see that additional cost for a few years.

"None of the bonds will be issued until the enrollment figures themselves, the growth itself, dictates the need for that to occur," Drastata said.

The bond is a steep increase from previous bonds approved by voters in 2005 and 2008, but Drastata said this bond package would take care of the district's needs for the next ten years.

He said there are other options available to meet the growth needs, but none of those are long term solutions for the problem they're facing.

"If we did nothing, those options might include portable buildings or having to stagger schedules in a way that would be really difficult to manage for our administrators and it would be difficult on the learning environment for the kids," Drastata said. "The reality is we'll hit a point where kids will literally be hanging out of the windows and there just won't be any other place to put them."

Debbie Stewart-Elizondo teaches in the district and has three kids in Comal ISD schools. She said she sees the need for more space and hopes voters will too.

"I think it's a good idea, it's definitely needed," Stewart-Elizondo said. "Our schools are busting at the seams and we all want what's best for our kids and I think it's necessary."

Voters will get their say on the bond on Nov. 5.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.